Monday, October 16, 2017

Everywhere You Go There's a Zacchaeus Up a Tree by Roger Campbell edited by Timothy Campbell

About the Book:
Every week for nearly forty years, Roger Campbell took up his pen to craft a newspaper column that would make a difference in the lives of his readers. His tales of fishing, family, friends, and fun helped them to trade their fears for faith, their sorrows for songs, and their doubts for certainties.

Everywhere You Go There's a Zacchaeus Up a Tree is an anthology edited by his son, drawn from these weekly columns. Based on Roger's experiences in the world at large, the pastorate, his community, and his family, these brief but wise essays are enriching, instructive, and gently challenging. Roger's habit of humbly talking with people from all walks of life wherever he went provided ample opportunity to impact generations of folks. His warm words still bear witness to the truth that God meets us where we are and uses us when we are willing.

Always starting with a Scripture reference, these short entries can be read as a daily or weekly devotion.

For those longing for a simpler time and the flavor of small-town life, Everywhere You Go There's a Zacchaeus Up a Tree shares a deep, abiding, homespun faith that knows, as Campbell wrote, that "God loves you no matter which way the wind blows."

My Thoughts:

"Whether at the post office or at the back, a restaurant or the super market checkout lane, everywhere you go, there's a woman at the well and a Zacchaeus up a tree!"  (p. 10)

I imagine that Timothy Campbell cherishes this book, because these articles were written by his earthly dad and changed the lives of many people over several decades.  I will always be grateful he chose to share these treasures with the public, or, sad to say, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed the benefit of Roger Campbell's godly wisdom.

This is a book that contains a treasure trove of personal and spiritual insights gleaned over decades of spending time immersed in God's Word and in serving others.  The one thing that is consistent and very evident is Campbell's love for God and his people.  There is an humbleness about the words he chooses to share that open the reader's heart to receive the truth of God's Word as it is given in the context of everyday living.

The Campbell household was blessed to have a husband and father who lavished words of encouragement and godly wisdom upon them.  And I'm quite sure as they shared the relationship with the world as his weekly articles were publishes, that their own heart were transformed by the power of God's Word as it was shared through Campbell's pen.

This is a unique and powerful little book - to be ingested slowly and thoughtfully.  I highly recommend this to everyone!!

About the Author:

Roger Campbell (1930-2015) was in the ministry for over fifty years. He spent many years as a pastor, and in the late 1970's he launched Roger Campbell Ministries, an evangelical ministry through which he produced radio broadcasts, wrote weekly newspaper columns, and spoke at church Bible conferences. He is the author of nearly 30 books, including the acclaimed Preach for a Year series.

Timothy Campbell, Roger Campbell's son, is owner of and counselor at Life Resource Christian Counseling Center in Lapeer, Michigan, and an ordained chaplain.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Counseling Under the Cross by Bob Kellemen - REVIEWED

About the Book:

Martin Luther was not only a theologian, a writer, and a preacher, he was a pastoral counselor who longed for peace with God. Now, 500 years after he posted his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church, his teachings on gospel-centered and cross-focused pastoral care can transform our approach to soul care, and teach us that daring faith in Christ alone can change our life today and give us peace forever.

In Counseling Under the Cross, biblical counselor and noted author Bob Kellemen mines the riches of Luther’s letters of spiritual counsel to give readers a new understanding of how Luther engaged in the personal ministry of the gospel. He guides pastors, counselors, lay leaders, and friends toward a deeper understanding of the gospel that will directly impact their personal ministry to others. Through lively vignettes, real-life stories, and direct quotes from Luther, readers will be equipped to apply the gospel to themselves and others, and learn that pastoral care is what every believer does in one-another ministry.

As one of the most influential figures in Christian history, Luther was not only the father of the Reformation, he was also the father of “gospel-centered counseling.” As sons and daughters in the faith, we have much to learn from him. Counseling Under the Cross equips us to apply the gospel richly, relevantly, and robustly to suffering and sin so that we find our hope and help in Christ alone.

My Thoughts:

Grace is Christ’s prescription for our disgrace – forgiving medicine for sin, preventative medicine for victory over temptation, and cleansing medicine for victory over Satan’s condemnation.” (p. 169)

This power-packed truth is what is referred to in Bob Kelleman’s book, Counseling Under the Cross, as a “tweet sized summary.”  Lest you think this is a light, non-relevant book, think again!  This brilliant author has made a very complex and historically foundational giant of the faith VERY relevant and very timely!  Martin Luther began a movement away from religion and toward relationship with Christ that has changed the very heart of Christianity.

Kelleman takes a look at the life of Luther and places in the context of his desperate longing to know and walk in the freedom of God’s grace that was purchased for us at Calvary.  At the end of each chapter he closes with “Timeless Truth for Life and Ministry Today.”  He realizes that now, more than ever before, we need to be able to tell others why we cling to the truth of Christ.  He speaks to a generation that has walked away from religion and is hungry for relationship. 

I must confess, I haven’t read all of this book yet.  The mailman delivered it to a neighbor, and it wasn’t returned to me until just a few days ago.  But I’ve read enough to be able to tell you that this is an important book for church leaders and pastors who want their body to be healthy and strong in a time where many are walking away from the church all together.

I am happy to recommend this book!  It is a powerful teaching tool that will make a difference in many lives.

About the Author:

Bob Kellemen, PhD, is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Chair of the Biblical Counseling Department at Crossroads Bible College and the founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. He is also the author of many books, including Gospel-Centered Counseling and Gospel Conversations. Bob and his wife Shirley have two children and two grandchildren.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

If We Make It Home by Christina Suzann Nelson - REVIEWED

About the Book:
An exciting story of survival and spiritual renewal

When four college friends graduated from the University of Northwest Oregon, their lives stretched before them, full of promise and vows to stay connected. But life has a way of derailing well-laid plans.

Now they haven't spoken in twenty-five years. But against all odds, three of them have found themselves back in the same place--at their alma mater, wondering how they got there. When they discover their fourth friend, Hope, has died, Jenna, Ireland, and Vicky decide to embark on a wilderness adventure to honor her memory--and for secret reasons of their own. Jenna wants to show her husband that she's more than a helpless, overweight, middle-aged empty nester. Ireland wants to get back to the nature she loves and hide from the charges being pressed against her. And Vicky wants to show she cares for something besides her ministry--and put off the disaster waiting at home for as long as possible.

They never bargained for the dangers they face in an unforgiving wilderness. Now they'll have to work together if they hope to make it home alive. While the three women fight to survive the elements, their toughest battles may be with themselves.

My Thoughts:

"I told my story, all of it, and I wasn't rejected. I was revived." (p. 265)

Granted, this thought comes at the end of Christina Nelson’s novel, If We Make it Home, but, to me, it beautifully epitomizes  the end goal (or rather, result) of a very harrowing tale.  Nelson masterfully weaves the story of three former college friends who end up on a very unintentional journey of  self-discovery.  The circumstances that bring them together are very plausible, and each of the women represent a part of the “mask” we all put on during our lifetimes to become what others perceive or demand we become.  In the process, we lose ourselves and wind up in situations we never dreamed possible.

This book hit a nerve for me, because even though none of us has a clue what life has in store for us when we are young adults, life throws all of us some unexpected curves and bends in our journey that force us to either take an honest look at ourselves or disappear altogether.  These three women not only must face their inner demons, but they wind up fighting for their very lives when they choose to go on an extreme survivalist hike trying to outrun their own life choices.

This is a very well-written and poignant novel of discovery. I recognized part of my own brokenness in the lives of all three of the main characters.  This novel encouraged me to continue on my own journey of self-discovery after facing my own survivalist experience!  I encourage everyone to read this book with an open heart and mind.  Don’t be afraid to take an honest look at your own life and begin the hard, but very rewarding journey, of becoming the person God created you to be! 

This is a phenomenal book, and I highly recommend it to everyone!  Be willing to fight to become who you were meant to be! 

About the Author:
Christina Suzann Nelson is a member of Oregon Christian Writers and ACFW. Her essays have been published in the Cup of Comfort series. Nelson lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with her husband and four children. This is her first book.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig - REVIEWED

About the Book:
When You Stare Into the Abyss It Also Stares Into You

The bullet that rips into Cole "Tox" Russell was never meant to kill. It was meant to send a message. Only one man is skilled enough to have taken the shot, a rogue Special Forces operator who vanished months ago.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he's out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend could be right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team are forced into another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is harnessing the power of a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming

My Thoughts:
What concerns me….is that he’s treading a fine line between fighting evil and becoming it.”  (p. 91)

I was introduced to Cole “Tox” Russell in January of this year when I reviewed the first book of this stellar series Conspiracy of Silence.  This second book of the series, Crown of Souls, takes a suspense and thrill read to an entirely new level of shudders!  I mean, Kendig combines the military prowess of a black ops team, the historical background of an historical anthropologist and layers it with a REALLY creepy element of the supernatural that isn’t out of the realm of believability at all!

All that said, Kendig even takes time to build relationships between her characters that are realistic and believably challenged by the careers they have chosen for their lives. Cole, well, he is a guy that you want to hug and say, “it’ll be alright” and comfort him. But comfort isn’t in the realm of possibility when a soldier goes rogue…well sort of…he had a little help...I can’t tell you details because that will spoil your fun!!

So…go!!!  Go now!! And grab a copy of this amazing book!  You can understand it without reading this first book in the series, but if you haven’t read it….read it first.  You will gain valuable background and understanding!  This….oh this….this is my kind of read!! LOVE IT!!!!  You will too!!  Enjoy!!

About the Author:

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She's penned over a dozen novels, including The Quiet Professionals series and the A Breed Apart series. She and her hunky hero hubby have a fun, crazy life with their children and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Liar's Winter by Cindy K. Sproles - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark--and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it "the mark of the devil," and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.

Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there's anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Set in the wild and beautiful Appalachian Mountains of nineteenth-century East Tennessee, Liar's Winter is an unflinching yet inspirational exploration of prejudice and choice.

My Thoughts:

Kindness is from the soul.  It’s gived ‘cause it can’t help but be gived.”  (p.50)

Lochiel Ogle couldn’t begin to comprehend the life giving truth of these words when she heard them.  Lochiel is what I consider a tragic character, suffering innocently at the hands of desperate, ignorant people.  Her story is told with powerful, beautiful prose, and the process of transformation unfolds in unexpected and unusual ways in the hills of Tennessee.  This story is one that spans a couple of decades in a family’s history, and, as truth is revealed, the reader’s heart is painfully stretched to choose kindness.

I love a book that compels me to highlight and underline passages just so I can return to the words and savor their beauty.  Cindy Sproles tells such a story, and, through her prose, she creates characters that come to vivid life and cause you to laugh and weep right along with them as they experience their story.  Sproles really illustrates grace, time and time again, as her characters strive to find freedom and truth  as they are relentlessly pursued by an evil that seems to know no bounds.  I’ll be honest, there are characters in this book that I could not muster an ounce of kindness for. 

This book is filled with the truth of the gospel told and expressed through the lives of these characters and their circumstances.  I believe this is why this novel is so incredibly powerful.  I also love the way Sproles illustrated the living power of God’s Word and its transformational influence on the hearts of all who receive it! This book is SO RICH!!!  I can’t recommend it highly enough!!

About the Author:
Cindy K. Sproles is the author of devotions published in newspapers across the country and a teacher at Christian writers conferences. She spent her formative years showing off her beloved Appalachian Mountains to others, and she and her family still live in the mountains of East Tennessee. Visit Cindy at

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

These Healing Hills by Ann H Gabhart - REVEIWED

About the Book:
Francine Howard has her life all mapped out--until the man she loves announces his plans to bring home an English bride from war-torn Europe in 1945. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he's at a loss when it comes to envisioning what's next for his life.

When Francine's and Ben's paths intersect, it's immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

My Thoughts:
Perhaps the Lord had put her right where she was supposed to be.”  (p. 59)

Ann Gabhart inserted a prophetic word over Francine Howard’s life early in her latest novel, These Healing Hills.  I was totally drawn into this novel from the very first pages.  Francine (Fran to the other characters in the novel) followed her heart into the midwifery calling, but discovered the truth of God’s Word when God worked things out for her good and His glory. 

We are able to watch Fran fall in love with her calling, and then with the people of Kentucky – Ben  Locke in particular.  I was so excited to learn all about the Frontier Nursing and that it was indeed founded in the 1920’s, and can STILL be chosen as an education option today!! (isn’t Google fun!)  Anyway, Fran finds herself in the hills of Kentucky at the end of WWII, and while she is following her own dreams of a nursing career in midwifery, she is also making a fresh start for herself after being jilted by the man she thought she would marry at the end of the war.

This book is so well-written that the characters leap from the pages into your heart!!  Granny Em and Willie will win you over quickly, as will the rest of the nurses!  And I can’t forget Sarge!  You’ll get to know and love him too!  The community is so connected and vibrant, you will find yourself totally immersed in story and having a hard time finding a stopping point!  Enjoy the journey, readers!! I certainly did!  You don’t want to miss this!!

About the Author:
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels--The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted--as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Assault by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt and Alton Gansky - REVIEWED

About the Book:
As Darkness Threatens, Four Gifted People Will Give the World Its Best--And Maybe Only--Chance to Survive. This is Harbingers.

In Invitation, four beloved and bestselling suspense authors introduced supernaturally gifted characters on a race to stem the tide of growing evil. Now Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky return with the next cycle of fast-paced and riveting tales.

In Bill Myers's "The Revealing" the team finds themselves in Rome trying to retrieve the mystical spear Hitler once stole. The task will take them from hidden chambers inside the Vatican to a mysterious seaside cave with unexpected and dangerous powers.

Frank Peretti's "Infestation" tells of a microscopic plague unleashed on the world that deceives, blinds, kills, then spreads and kills again. The Harbingers team must confront this faceless evil bent on seducing and destroying humankind.

In "Infiltration" by Angela Hunt, a seaside respite intended to buy time for the wounded team turns deadly when misplaced trust leads the Harbingers into dangerous waters.

Alton Gansky's "The Fog" reveals a supernatural mist unlike any other, filled with vicious monsters that kill whatever they find. When one team member realizes the only way to stop the fog is to enter it, the ultimate sacrifice must be made.

My Thoughts:
The Assault – WOW!  How to you begin to tell others about a book, written by four of the best writers in the genre of supernatural thrillers?  This was a book I literally could NOT put down!  I didn’t have the time to read, I could barely stay ahead of all that was going on in life, but I carved out time for a few pages of this book every single day until I had finished every word!

I think was really appealed to me most was that each author told the story from a different character’s perspective.  The story continues at break-neck speed from first page to last, and there are many, many times you think that the characters won’t survive until the next page – and they almost don’t!    So all of the characters you came to love in the first book of the Harbinger series.

I want to tell you some things, but I dare not spoil the thrill of the ride!  Just trust me when I tell you that you will encounter things that will bend your mind like a pretzel!  Just remain pliable!  It is SO WORTH the ride!!  The gifts that the characters discovered in the first book, they polish in these stories.  Like all believers, they must learn to trust God to move when He wants to and not when they want to.  This was one of many truths that this book showcased that kept the pages turning! 

I cannot begin to recommend this series highly enough!  I would suggest reading them in order so you will be able to fully appreciate all of the subtle nuances of these incredible stories!

About the Authors:

Bill Myers is a youth worker, creative writer, and film director who co-created the "McGee and Me!" book and video series; his work has received over forty national and international awards. His many books include Hot Topics, Tough Questions, and The Dark Side of the Supernatural.

Frank E. Peretti is one of American Christianity's best-known authors. His novels, including This Present Darkness, have sold more than 10 million copies. He makes his home in Idaho. Learn more at

The author of more than 100 published books and with nearly 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Timesbestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at

Alton Gansky is the author of twenty-four novels and eight nonfiction books. He is a Carol Award winner and an Angel Award winner, and has been a Christy Award finalist. He holds a BA and an MA in biblical studies and has been awarded a Doctor of Literature degree. Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Gansky also serves as an editor and collaborative writer for top tier authors. He lives in California.